Join Date: May 2009
Location: Mid Northern TN
How is he when you're leading him? Is he still fearful or does he relax then? Sounds like he's getting worse rather than better, so good on you for recognizing that you need to change something up.
I can say that with my boy, he was getting much better about not being spooky, and then went through a phase where it was as if he was seeing what I would let him get away with rather than honest fear. We're pretty much past that and settling into 'reliable trail horse' mode most of the time now.
My horse will try to slow down when there is something scary/something he thinks he can pretend is scary, and if that works, then he'll stop and/or try to spook, spin, or run. So for us, the key is to keep him moving. Moving forwards. Backwards (in fear or disobedience) is NEVER an option as IMO it leads to very bad habits and potential rearing. So, when I feel him begin to want to slow, I squeeze him on. If he ignores that, I kick. If he ignores that, I either slap him on the rear or turn him a different direction (left, right, at an angle away from whatever he's so worried about) and kick him that direction. So long as the feet don't stop, he's listening to me (at least a little bit), and he's not going to pull his nonsense.
I am not much of the 'let the horses stop and sniff/look' camp. A) because my horse gets more rather than less tense when we do that and blows up and B) I think he should be listening to me when I tell him to ignore it and move on, not making up his own mind (as generally, he goes with the wrong answer). See the 'this is how we train a fearless trail horse' sticky- I think Cherie has it nailed.